SNL: S33E04... HOST: BRIAN WILLIAMS... DATE: NOVEMBER 3, 2007

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One of my favorite hosts who I didn’t know going into this SNL challenge was in charge of the show on the weekend just prior to my eighth birthday, which means I was old enough that I probably watched the show the night it originally air. That said, I would have actually been seven at the time and therefore not familiar with this news anchor name Edwin Newman, considering I had to look him up on the internet when I rewatched the episode at the ripe old age of forty-two… wait… make that forty-one, I forgot that I’ve been at this for over a year.

Anyways, the reason I loved Edwin so much that he was a newsman there to celebrate his retirement on this silly show from the network where he worked for years. I wouldn’t say that he was a reluctant host, but I would say that he didn’t have an air of wanting to be a celebrity. In fact, it seemed quite the opposite as he spent a lot of the night explaining why he wasn’t able to participate in several sketches due to media regulations or personal ethical rules that he held himself up to as a journalist.

Though he did seem to have a good time, his visit felt like a genuine send off an not some publicity stunt. I felt the same way about Ralph Nader, Julian Bond, and Jesse Jackson, where, yes, they were there to share their views, but they also stayed on track with their message instead of showing that they got what it takes to be a star. Or, worse yet, were there as some over calculated attempt to boost their popularity by showing they’ve got what it takes to be a superstar.

In the old days, I used to like hosts from the world of news and politics because more often than not, most of them had this approach. This all seemed to change after Gore lost to Bush when every journalist and politician host that followed felt like that were more calculated in using the show as a tool to get viewers to like their personalities over their policies. It’s like this was a time when both the makers and reporters of political news became spokesmodels for the system, instead of champions for the citizens of this country.

I know for a fact that back in the day when this episode originally aired, I didn’t have an issue with Brian Williams efforts to be an all-around celebrity and not just the guy reporting the news. I know this because it made staying up to date more entertaining since my news was coming from someone who I also enjoy whenever he’d guest on Letterman. Plus, most of my information was coming from satirical programs like The Daily Show anyway and thought why shouldn’t the networks work on establishing more captivating news presenters.

Now I feel that the news anchor celebrity is exceptionally damaging as we now have to factor in all the filters of each host and their polarizing points of view while getting no actual news and only a bunch of opinions. Brain Williams’s blatant lies to make him more exciting on talk shows may have been the turning point where I stopped seeing the fun in either politicians or members of the media participating in this sort of fun. This is also when started to wish that they’d leave the entertaining to trained performers so that they can focus on their actual jobs.

Sure you might say that the Brian Williams scandal wasn’t even as bad as others so I should just let it go. To that I say, instead of letting Williams off the hook, why don’t we shift our focus to ALSO address these people who you claim to be worse and actually clean up the mess as opposed to giving into what many consider an acceptable amount of scandal.

As I said, I might have actually liked this episode in the past, but considering the current state of the world, I struggle to enjoy watching jokes from the people who help get things this far. It didn’t help that several sketches really made it seem as if the 2008 election was starting to look like a prequel to Hillary Clinton’s nonsense that she pulled on Bernie Sanders, which brought back a lot of bitterness that I’ve been trying to burry thanks to this last shit-show of an election.

I openly admit, that, like with Jon Bon Jovi, a bulk of my disappointment stemmed from self-fulfilling negative expectations, thanks to my feelings toward the host. Then again, this show was worse than Bon Jovi in that it was legitimately a boring episode, no matter how I might have felt about Williams, himself, back with this show first aired. Being that there are a couple more Presidential Elections before I get caught up with the current episodes, I’m willing to bet, there will be more reviews like this to come, and personality politics continues to ruin the world while the media fans the flames.

Sorry, I ended up going this route, but this is what this episode brought to mind. With that, it’s now time for me to wrap this one up. In order to do so, it’s now time for me to shift gears in order to share what I saw, as I give you…

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a Halloween Party hosted by Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton that she was throwing for her fellow contenders to become the Democratic Presidential nominee. Her guests included Will Forte as John Edwards who came disguised as a bindle carrying hobo and the real Barack Obama who came disguised as himself. Throughout the evening all Hillary did was talk as if she had already won the job of President. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, Obama was mainly there for the announcement of, “Live from New York…” 

  2. Brian Williams then officially opened the show with a monolog about how our host wondered briefly if hosting the show would mar his reputation as a serious news anchor, only to end up deciding that all preconceptions will change after tonight and that he is okay with it. Makes me wonder if this is when his focused switched to becoming a frivolous entertainer over being a legitimate reporter.

  3. This was followed by a fake ad for Maybelline For Men Only which was pretty much just female make-up products only with more manly verbiage on the packaging.

  4. Bronx Beat With Betty And Jodi then returned with more chattering between Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph who played the hosts of a public access show where this time they talked over Brian Williams who played their slow-witted fireman/guest.

  5. Riley's Way was a parody of the final episode of the CW show with the same name. I’ve never even heard of this show, so I didn’t get a single reference, but Brian Williams played the school’s principal who broke the fourth wall to express his anger over not being invited to be part of the college-based spinoff show.

  6. Publishers Clearing House had Brian Williams as the winner of the fifteen-million-dollar award and seemed unimpressed about his sudden windfall because his character was such a bore. Even after being shown clips of the last several winners who were unable to contain themselves, Williams remained his boring self, only to end up getting over the moon excited when a pizza man arrived with a free delivery of cheesy bread.

  7. This was followed by another SNL Digital Short called A Day In The Life Of Brian Williams that revealed the new anchor standing on the street ready to be recognized. They also had him pulling pranks like throwing pennies at Al Roker and Matt Lauer before delivering the Nightly News.

  8. Feist then took to the stage to perform 1234.

  9. Once again, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Fred Armisen dropped by as an NBC executive to discuss the impending Writer’s Guild strike. Kenan Thompson also dropped by as the Weekend Update nanny, Barbara Birmingham to comment on the past week’s Halloween events.

  10. Larry King Live had Fred Armisen as Larry King to interview Amy Poehler as J.K. Rowling as the two viewed deleted scenes from Harry Potter while focusing on the fact that Dumbledore was actually gay. This sketch also contained clips “from the new movie in the series,” that had Bill Hader as Dumbledore who acted progressively more gay with each new shared clip.

  11. This was followed by a fake ad to iPhone where Fred Armisen played a man who highlighted the ways that his new iPhone allowed him to get away with having a secret mistress.

  12. Democratic Nominees Backstage took us behind-the-scenes prior to a Democratic Debate held at Drexel University. Brian Williams played himself to tell the nominees that the media is set on Hillary Clinton securing her party’s ticket. This got the non-Clinton nominees to start to work together to find a way to discredit Hillary’s chances.

  13. Feist then returned to the stage to perform I Feel It All.

  14. Nightly News New Theme had Brian Williams and a few NBC executives meet up with a group of studio musician to come up with a new theme song for the news that might help to bring in a younger audience.

  15. Finally, Brian Williams closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

Like with last night’s episode that I also hated because of the host over the content, this episode still had these moments from my three favorite sketches that made the night at least a little fun. Actually, I’m lying and only like any of these sketches to satisfy my review’s format’s need for a top three list. First, I loved the Publishers Clearing House sketch because I kind of found it funny when an unexcitable Brian Williams finally showed some enthusiasm over a free delivery of cheesy bread while yawning about winning millions. Next, I really liked Democratic Nominees Backstage because, even as a joke, it showcased the media’s bias toward Hillary Clinton that foreshadowed her actions while running against Trump. Finally, I was a fan of the Nightly News New Theme because it did make me laugh when he blamed, “these new things called podcasts,” when coming up with excuses for the plummeting rating of TV news.

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Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.